Ponds aren’t wading pools

To the parents of children who have turned Red Deer’s detention ponds into pools, for failing to realize the real dangers they pose (and to the teenagers among those children, who are old enough to know better).

Dart…

To the parents of children who have turned Red Deer’s detention ponds into pools, for failing to realize the real dangers they pose (and to the teenagers among those children, who are old enough to know better).

The City of Red Deer’s detention pond system was implemented because of the inevitable flooding that followed just as inevitable spring and summer storms. It is an aggressive and effective program that has prevented millions of dollars in damage to Red Deer homes and also creates greenspace in neighbourhoods.

But the ponds were never intended as impromptu swimming and boating venues.

Although the undertow is not significant, these underwater park areas do contain vegetation, benches, goal posts and garbage cans, among other things — just the sort of things that can snag an unsuspecting child.

As well, although city officials point out that rain water is clean, it can gather contaminants as it washes down city streets. Do you want your children playing in water that could contain oil, gasoline, weed killer, fertilizer or pet feces?

There are plenty of lakes in Central Alberta, at least three splash parks in Red Deer alone, and another four pools (when the G.H. Dawe Centre reopens).

If you want your children to get wet, take them to one of those venues.

No one wants to see a tragedy. And taxpayers would rather not have the city be forced to spend valuable resources on rescue attempts for children in ponds, or on patrolling ponds in the wake of storms.

Next week is National Drowning Prevention Week. It seems an appropriate time to review the rules of water safety with children, and to remind them that of the 44 drownings in Alberta in 2008, a full have of them occurred during recreational activities.

Fun shouldn’t hold danger for children.

Bouquet…

To Lacombe teenager Stephen Radu, for reminding us of the value of courage and perseverance, even in the face of daunting odds.

This weekend, the 17-year-old Lacombe Composite High School student is taking part in a 300-km bicycle ride to raise awareness and funds to send children with cancer to camp.

For Stephen, the Tour for Kids is more than just a bike ride — it is a signpost on a remarkable journey from devastation to triumph.

Stephen was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer when he was 13 years old. He has had intensive brain surgery and radiation, five rounds of chemotherapy and four stem cell transplants. All of that left him with cerebral mutism, a side effect of the surgery that robbed him of all movement and speech.

But he has persevered against the longest of odds, and after years of physiotherapy and speech therapy, he is walking and talking and he will ride his recumbent bicycle on the three-day tour this weekend.

He says his long road back will take him eventually to university and a career as an accountant.

No one should doubt his ability to realize his goals, based on the tenacity he has shown in the last four years.

“It was definitely scary,” said Stephen of his battle with cancer, “but what I took from it is that nothing is impossible.”

He should be an inspiration to us all.

To pledge Stephen online, visit tourforkids.com

John Stewart is the Advocate’s managing editor.

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